My Top 5 Best PseudoPod Episodes of 2017
I make no bones about it, short fiction is without a doubt my favorite way to read horror and science fiction. Some people like to wade through huge tomes and multi-novel series, but I prefer the diversity of authors and stories that I can get in a good short story anthology. I was totally giddy with delight when I found PseudoPod, a horror short fiction podcast that airs weekly, has great narrators, and boasts a great deal of original content. I have been listening to PseudoPod for a while now and let me tell you, 2017 has been a bumper year for them when it comes to the quality of their horror fiction. If you love horror but don’t listen to PseudoPod don’t delay, you can start with their own new listener recommendations.
Looking back on all the great horror fiction PseudoPod had in 2017, I decided to share a list of my personal favorite episodes and describe exactly what clicked with me in each one. While compiling the list, I noticed that all five of the episodes were PseudoPod originals, which really shows the strength of the original talent that they are able to recruit. These episodes might not speak to you in the same way they did me, but each highlight the literary diversity that is on demand and would be a great place to start if you are new to PseudoPod and are looking to delve into their back catalog. Just click on the episode title to listen!
I love horror fiction that has twists and turns, but I really despise the M. Night Shyamalan “its a twist!” ending. I much prefer the mind-bending twist to occur at the beginning of piece so we can explore, along with the characters, the ramifications. This is exactly what Gus Moreno does here, in a raw and intimate first person narrative we get to walk in the shoes of the narrator as he navigates twists that I guarantee you will not expect. There narration, by Maui Threv, is also top notch and his couldn’t be a more perfect fit with the story at hand.
I got a distinct Modern Noir vibe with this episode and really enjoyed the harsh, almost pulpy voice it was written in. Some of the word choices and sentence structures are totally over the top and would seem silly if read out of context, but it totally works with the pastiche the author is going for. The world Luciano Marano paints for us is ugly, dirty, but not without a glimmer of humanity. The fact that the glimmer happens to be an unconventional relationship really makes this story stand out. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but juxtaposition between harsh words of the author and the feelings of the characters for each other and the life they want just works so well. The story is brutal and in-your-face, as is the narration from Dave Robison. This story is one that can really only work in short fiction and one of the reasons I keep coming back to the format again and again.
Fictional books are a great way for authors to build a believable and engaging world. Think of the Necronomicon, the fictional book that appeared first in H.P. Lovecraft’s short fiction and then again and again in other author’s works. The fictional book is so engaging, in fact, that H.P. Lovecraft was constantly asked if the book was real, libraries across the world were queried for copies and fake cards have been slipped into card catalogs. In the same vein, Sean Pearce creates for us a fictional movie named The Gods Eat Men! and all the accompanying analysis of its director and his other work that we would expect of a fan. Written in a decidedly academic tone, this adds to rather than takes away from the creepiness of this tale. I got a House of Leaves vibe too, where so much of the tension is created by someone recounting, sometimes second hand, the nature of a film. You might not enjoy the clinical approach of the text, but that was one of the things that really sold it to me and made the fictional movie seem real.
Cthulhu becomes President of the United States and. This one is timely, satirical, funny, and horrifying is so many different ways. Its over the top for sure, but horror doesn’t have to just terrify us. Here, one of the most important characters of our collective horror culture is used to create a satire of our current situation. The horror genre can and does have things to say about our wider culture, but too often I think it gets discounted because horror is viewed as simply a method to give us a good fright. Make sure that you listen afterwards for some great comments by PseudoPod narrator Alasdair Stuart.
One of the things that I find as I am exposed to more and more short fiction is that some of my favorite stories begin as ones that I just know I am not going to like. This one starts that way, written from the perspective of a wife who has lost her husband somewhere along a lonely road with creepy road signs about the “Father of Lies.” I sigh, and think that this is nothing new, but I also think I can stick this one out, lets see where it goes. Holy crap, does this one go some interesting places and it has what I think is the most legitimately terrifying scene in any horror fiction I read in 2017. Its a longing, tight narrative filled with some of the creepiest examples of the weird and other worldly that I have read in a long time. This is one stuck with me for a long time after I listened and really rekindled my interest in the weird horror sub-genre. The narration from Jacquie Duckworth is also spot on, with a longing resonance and twinge of confusion that I can still hear.
Are there any episodes that were your favorites that we missed? We also really liked “The Jamcoi” by J.M. McDermott, you can check out an article we wrote about it and the holiday horror sub-genre. Let us know your recommendations for the best PseudoPod episodes on Facebook or Twitter and don’t forget to follow us by clicking on the link to the right